FACT CHECK: Does South Dakota Have Over 20,000 Open Jobs?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

In a new advertisement, South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem claims her state has over 20,000 open jobs.

Verdict: True

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows South Dakota had 29,000 open jobs in  June 2023. A spokesperson for Noem’s office said the number was based off a weekly statistic.

Fact Check:

Noem’s office announced on Aug. 25 that $27 million would be used to fund broadband in South Dakota, according to Rapid City Journal. Over $269.5 million has been invested into broadband in South Dakota via the Connect SD broadband program, the outlet reported.

In a new advertisement, which has been uploaded to YouTube, Noem claims South Dakota has over 20,000 open jobs. The advertisement has garnered over 2,200 views since it was shared to the platform on Aug. 18.

The claim is true, with some estimates pegging the number higher. According to preliminary data from BLS, South Dakota had 29,000 open jobs in June 2023, which is lower than the May 2023 number of 31,000.

Data from BLS published in an Aug. 16 article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes South Dakota hired 20,000 workers in June 2023, while the state had 29,000 open jobs during the same month. These numbers, while preliminary, indicate the state had a hiring rate of 4.4% and a job openings rate of 5.9% in June 2023. (RELATED: Did Vivek Ramaswamy Say, ‘Climate Change Is A Hoax?’)

“The July 2023 data are scheduled for release on September 19th. In June 2023, South Dakota had 29,000 job openings. These data are from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS),” a spokesperson from the BLS said.

South Dakota is listed as having 29,000 job openings, according to the U.S. Chamber of Congress’s Worker Shortage Index published on Aug. 10. The same index puts the state’s hiring rate at 4.4% and its labor force participation rate at 67.8%. Data from the index also indicates the state has only 38 workers for every 100 open jobs, or almost 9,000 unemployed workers to 29,000 job openings.

The job openings rate published in the SHRM article matches that reported by Wallet Hub on the same day. A chart detailing the states where employers are struggling the most in hiring ranks South Dakota as 31 in the list.

South Dakota had an unemployment rate of 1.8% in June 2023 breaking the previous low of 1.9%, according to BLS data, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported on July 21. Employment in the state also grew by 1,300 occupied jobs, according to the outlet.

Preliminary numbers from South Dakota’s Department of Labor and Regulation show the state’s unemployment rate increased to 1.9% in July 2023. Unemployment levels also increased by 1.1% to 9,000 workers, according to the same numbers. The number of South Dakota residents who could staff a new or expanding business or the state’s labor supply was estimated to be 45,685 in the same month. Similarly, the state’s labor force increased 0.2% to 482,700 workers.

In looking at employment numbers by industry, retail workers rose by 800 in July 2023, while construction increased by 500, and government jobs declined by 5,800, according to the same data.

“The statistic highlighted in the ads is based on a rolling weekly total of job openings. The figure [being highlighted] is a monthly statistic, which is why it is higher,” Ian Fury, the Chief of Communications for Gov. Noem, told Check Your Fact in an email.

The most recent data point, dated Aug. 23, showed there were approximately 21,749 openings, down from a high of 25,029 on May 10, citing the Department of Labor and Regulation’s Labor Market Information Center. The data is from virtual labor market and online advertised jobs data.

This is not the first time Noem has released an advertisement highlighting employment in South Dakota. The Republican Governor has also appeared in three previous advertisements as part of her “Freedom Works Here” campaign.

Check Your Fact has contacted BLS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter